School board candidates

Sunday, February 29, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:44 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 7, 2008

The Columbia Missourian asked the candidates for the Columbia Board of Education to tell readers in about 100 words what goals they would have as a board member. Five people are running for two seats. The election will be held April 6.

Arch Brooks

About him:

Brooks, 52, according to county records, is running for school board for the second time and is also running for mayor in the April 6 election. His Web site includes information on his background with computer systems. It also has an electronic forum for residents to discuss issues and ask questions. At a live forum last week, Brooks said his plans for the school board include helping taxpayers see where their money is going and reducing the size of the administration in the district. He would like to see the district use more of its resources and technology.

In his words:

“One goal of becoming a school board member is to right size administration and point out ways of trimming the existing budget. Also, there are many operational considerations for realizing a greater return on tax dollars. In addition to flattening the administration at 1818 West Worley, I would eliminate the Instructional Media Services within Columbia Public Schools as currently configured. This activity is too costly for the return on investment.”

Karla DeSpain

About her:

DeSpain, 46, is seeking her second term on the Columbia Board of Education. She works part time as the financial officer of her husband’s business and has two children, Caitlin, 13, and Ryanne, 11, who both attend Columbia Public Schools. DeSpain has served as the president of the Fairview PTA and the Assistance League of Mid-Missouri, as well as other community activities. DeSpain has said she is running again because of unresolved issues such as those relating to the federal No Child Left Behind Act and school funding.

In her words:

“My goals in running for the school board mirror the current board goals: increasing student achievement, decreasing achievement disparity among students and maximizing use of resources. To increase student achievement, the district has an obligation to do everything possible so that each student does the best they can. Programs to encourage parental participation and personal relationships with students will help in these areas. We must give support to teachers to allow them to address the disparities within their classrooms. Keeping class sizes small and allowing teachers time for collaboration and learning will help this area. Finally, maximizing resources in a time of tight budgets is crucial to the success of our district. Not only must we conserve our monetary resources, but we must examine each program to make sure we are efficiently using our human resources well.”

Chuck Headley

About him:

Headley, 73, has been a board member since 1998 and is running for his third term. He is a retired MU professor of agricultural economics and is married with two adult children. He has been involved with PTAs and tutoring in Columbia. Headley has said school boards serve a role as policy-makers within the district and communication with the community and legislators is important. He has lobbied for better special-education funding and thinks the budget will continue to be an important issue in the district.

In his words:

“The goals I have if re-elected are to continue to increase achievement of all students and to work to reduce the disparity between various subgroups in the student body for racial and ethnic groups, as well as gender where they appear. I also want to find creative ways to minimize the impact of the severe budget constraints with which the district has to deal in the next two or three years and continue to improve the career center and its programs.”

Henry Lane

About him:

Lane, 64, has run unsuccessfully six times for a seat on the school board. He is a retired auditor who has lived in Columbia for most of his life and regularly attends the board meetings. Lane has tried to change the school district through public comments to the board, petitions and a lawsuit. His platform includes lowering school property taxes, and he is an advocate of concentrating on basic skills and improving working conditions for teachers rather than pay raises.

In his words:

“I want to continue the work I’ve been doing as an outsider for the last six years. I would like to get all children a good education. It is important to reduce wasteful and unnecessary spending. School administrator salaries, for example, are exorbitant, and should be cut. I would like to lower school property taxes. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for people, especially those on fixed or low incomes, to afford ‘The American Dream’ — a home of their own. I would also oppose bond issues, like the one for $22,500,000 on the April 6 ballot, and school property tax rate hikes that are ill-conceived, fiscally irresponsible, or place too great a financial strain on already overburdened property owners.”

Martina Pounds

About her:

Pounds, 38, is a real estate agent making her first attempt at running for the school board. She grew up in Germany and has lived in Columbia since 1992. Pounds is married to James Pounds, who ran for City Council last year, and has two children, Savannah, 9, and Collin, 6, who both attend Ridgeway Elementary School. Her campaign includes bringing a different perspective to the board because she was educated in another country and she wants to develop greater parental involvement with schools in the Columbia Public School District.

In her words:

“One of my main goals is to focus on building a strong volunteer program, involving parents and college students. Like I said earlier, we have three colleges of education right here in this town that are not being utilized enough. I would like to work with faculty of those colleges to find creative ways to give students more actual classroom time at earlier times in their degree program. I believe teachers and students could benefit greatly from a program like this. I also would like to work closely with city and county officials to use their projections for areas of growth and development. I am against increasing property taxes, as levels are already appropriate.”

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